Prostitution is a misdemeanor offense in Maryland.
It typically involves the agreement for a sexual act in exchange for money. The Maryland Criminal Code prohibits prostitution, and the law does not require actual intercourse or even physical contact to occur. It is the agreement to exchange a sex act for money that constitutes the crime—not the actual performance of a sex act. Accordingly, no money need change hands and no physical contact need occur to satisfy the elements of the offense.
Prostitution Laws in Maryland
The law defines prostitution in Maryland as offering sex acts, vaginal sex, or sexual contact for money. Sex act is broadly defined in the Code to apply to a range of activities including oral, anal, and vaginal sex. In addition, any activity performed for sexual gratification or arousal of another can constitute a sex act under the Maryland Criminal Code.
Maryland Criminal Code Section 11-301 requires a person to knowingly engage in prostitution or “assignation” to be guilty of the offense. “Assignation” is basically setting up a prostitution appointment or meeting. That means the mere fact of agreeing to meet for sex in exchange for money in and of itself can constitute a violation of the statute.
Additional Prostitution Related Sex Offenses
Pandering refers to the solicitation of prostitution or offering to procure a prostitute for another. Pandering is also a misdemeanor. To convict someone of pandering, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the pers on received money that came from another person prostituting, profited from a prostitute or prostitution house, or concealed the money earned from another person prostituting themselves.
Pandering also includes things like taking a prostitute to a hotel to meet a john, acting as a “madame”, persuading someone to engage in prostitution, and/or threatening another to force someone to participate in prostitution. Finally, taking someone’s passport or other government document to get them to participate in prostitution also violates Maryland pandering laws.
Defenses to Prostitution Offenses
Another defense is to argue that no sexual contact occurred or was contemplated. For example, if two adults agreed to exchange money for a massage, that does not constitute prostitution even under Maryland’s broad statute. Again, the law looks to the surrounding circumstances. So, if the conversation made explicit that it was more than a massage, lack of sexual contact would not be a viable defense.
Finally, prostitution does not criminalize generosity whereas one person in a relationship spends money on the other and they happen to have sex as part of their relationship. Some refer to this type of arrangement as “gold digging” or having a “sugar daddy.” Unless the arrangement is specifically sex in exchange for money, it does not constitute prostitution under Maryland law. As an aside, there is always the defense of entrapment. However, entrapment is a notoriously difficult defense to prove.
Punishment for Maryland Prostitution Crimes
Prostitution in Maryland carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $500.00 fine. That is the legal maximum a judge could sentence someone for prostitution and not necessarily reflective of what sentence someone would get—particularly a first offender. Human trafficking is a misdemeanor if the victim is an adult and carries a maximum penalty of ten years in jail and/or a $5,000.00 fine. However, if the victim of human trafficking is a minor, the maximum penalty is 25 years in jail and/or a $15,000.00 fine.
Pandering or receiving the earnings of a prostitute is also a misdemeanor but carries a stiff maximum penalty. The maximum penalty for pandering is 10 years in jail and/or a $10,000.00 fine. In addition to the above penalties, if a person is convicted of a prostitution or solicitation offense in Maryland and the victim is a minor, the law requires the defendant to register as a sex offender. The offender must register every six months for a period of 15 years.
Hiring a Maryland Prostitution Lawyer
When charged with any criminal offense, the situation can be dire. The stress and anxiety alone can be incredibly difficult for someone to deal with. If you add to the problem poor legal representation, the situation can only get worse. When hiring any criminal defense lawyer, its important to look for someone who has experience practicing in the court you have been charged. Its also important to hire someone who will aggressively fight for your rights and is not afraid to challenge the government.
Attorney Paolo Gnocchi has experience defending prostitution and sex offenses in Maryland. He is an aggressive advocate who will fight to ensure your rights are protected. If you or someone you know has been arrested and/or charged with a prostitution or solicitation offense in Maryland, contact Attorney Paolo Gnocchi today for a full case evaluation. He will go over your options and tell you exactly what to expect in your case.